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"Rocky King Detective" - Murder, PH.D.

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"Rocky King Detective" - Murder, PH.D.

Published 1953

Episode "Murder, PH.D." of the classic 50's TV series "Rocky King, Detective", which ran on the DuMont Television Network from 1950 to 1955. The series was broadcast live, and it's believed most episodes of the show are lost. The show got decent ratings and generally good reviews, and is among the better DuMont Network programs.

Run time Approx 25 Minutes
Production Company DuMont Television Network
Audio/Visual sound, Black and White


Director: Wes Kenney
Writers: Frank Phares, Roscoe Karns
Starring: Roscoe Karns
Announcer: Ken Roberts


Reviewer: katperrr - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 11, 2014
Subject: Rocky
I enjoyed it, but my that music ;-(
Reviewer: Leastring - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 10, 2012
Subject: What a find!
The man who wrote the teleplay for this show, Frank Phares, was my uncle - Uncle Frank (my mother's brother). I grew up knowing that he had been a writer/producer in Hollywood, but I didn't get the chance to really know him since we lived outside of Washington, D.C., and he lived in glamorous California (though I recall a couple of visits together at the family home in Texas)! So, stumbling across this actual live TV show of his from 1953 (when I was 5 years old!) is just a real treasure. I hope my kids will watch this and enjoy a piece of their family history. I was very impressed with the quick dialog and natural acting of Karns!
Reviewer: Indeterminacy - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 3, 2011
Subject: Lost high quality classic
Was surprised how good this was. Fast paced, great acting, gripping story. It's hard to believe this was recorded live. I couldn't find one flub or camera error.
Reviewer: Earlon - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 21, 2010
Subject: A catalog site for Classic TV shows
If you like Classic TV from of the 50's, there is a catalog site that makes it easy to watch episodes streaming from at:

There are currently over 400 individual episodes of about 30 different programs, and the site is growing day by day. Check it out!
Reviewer: 1StepBeyond - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 17, 2009
Subject: Give me a live cast any day
Roscoe Karns was a very established and likeable character actor who made stars more human than they would have been without people like Roscoe. Live television could be wonderful when the performances came off well. This showing had timing and good performances all around.
Reviewer: IanKoro - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 3, 2009
Subject: Betty Hutton?
I don't know what this has to do with the Betty Hutton show... but it's a lot of fun.

Roscoe Karns is great in this, I wish there were more surviving episodes.
Reviewer: Seto-Kaiba_Is_Stupid - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 12, 2008
Subject: Lovely
Lovely LIVE TV series. Way better than that overrated peice of crap known as "The Betty Hutton Show".
Reviewer: Retro_Saiyan - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 11, 2008
Subject: DuMont Rocks
I LOVE DuMont Network programming!
Reviewer: Robin_1990 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 18, 2008
Subject: I Uploaded This
Here is some info on this show from Wikipedia:
Rocky King, Detective was an American television series broadcast on the now-defunct DuMont Television Network from 1950 to 1954. It was one of DuMont's most popular programs. It was a live crime series set in New York City.

It not only kept Roscoe Karns from retirement, but cast him opposite his son, Todd Karns. The DuMont offices and corridors were used as sets. At the end of each program, Rocky King would exchange telephone small talk with his unseen wife Mabel and, after hanging up, say to no one in particular, "Great girl, that Mabel". Although most episodes were destroyed, some episodes still exist, including 37 at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. 4 Existing episodes of the series were released to DVD on November 21, 2006.


Here is some info on DuMont, taken from Wikipedia:
The DuMont Television Network was the world's first commercial television network, beginning operation in the United States in 1946. It was owned by DuMont Laboratories, a television equipment and set manufacturer. The network was hindered by the prohibitive cost of broadcasting, by Federal Communications Commission regulations which restricted the company's growth, and even by the company's partner, Paramount Pictures. Despite several innovations in broadcasting and the creation of one of television's biggest stars of the 1950s, the network never found itself on solid financial ground. Forced to expand on UHF channels during an era when UHF was not profitable, DuMont ceased broadcasting in 1956.

DuMont's latter-day obscurity has prompted at least one notable TV historian to refer to it as the "Forgotten Network". A few popular DuMont programs, such as Cavalcade of Stars and Emmy-award winner Life is Worth Living, appear in TV retrospectives or are mentioned briefly in books about U.S. television history, but almost all the network's programming was destroyed.

Despite no history of radio programming to draw on and perennial cash shortages, DuMont was an innovative and creative network. Without the radio revenues that supported mighty NBC and CBS, DuMont programmers had to rely on their wits and on connections in Broadway to provide original programs still remembered fifty-plus years later.

The network also largely ignored the standard business model of 1950s television, in which one advertiser sponsored an entire show, enabling it to have complete control over its content. Instead, DuMont sold commercials to many different advertisers, freeing producers of its shows from the veto power held by sole sponsors. This eventually became the standard model for U.S. television.

DuMont also holds another important place in American television history. WDTV's sign-on made it possible for stations in the Midwest to receive live network programming from stations on the East Coast, and vice versa. Before then, the networks relied on separate regional networks in the two time zones for live programming, and the West Coast received network programming from kinescopes (films shot directly from live television screens) originating from the East Coast. On January 11, 1949, the coaxial cable linking East and Midwest (known in television circles as "the Golden Spike") was activated. The ceremony, hosted by DuMont and WDTV, was carried on all four networks. WGN in Chicago and WABD in New York were able to share programs though a live coaxial cable feed when WDTV in Pittsburgh signed on, because the station completed the East Coast-to-Midwest chain, allowing stations in both regions to air the same program at the same time, which is still the standard for U.S. television. It would be another two years before the West Coast could get live programming, but this was the beginning of the modern era of network television.

The first broadcasts came from DuMont's Madison Avenue headquarters, but it soon found additional space, including a fully functioning theater, in the New York branch of Wanamaker's department store at Ninth Street and Broadway. Still later, a lease on the Adelphi Theater on 54th Street gave the network a site for variety shows, and in 1954, the lavish DuMont Tele-Center opened in the former New York Opera House at 205 East 67th Street.

DuMont aired the first television situation comedy, Mary Kay and Johnny, as well as the first network-televised soap opera, Faraway Hill. Cavalcade of Stars, a variety show hosted by Jackie Gleason, was the birthplace of The Honeymooners (Gleason left for CBS in 1952 just as his star began to rise). Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's devotional program Life Is Worth Living went up against Milton Berle in many cities, and was the first show to successfully compete in the ratings against "Mr. Television". In 1952, Sheen won an Emmy for "Most Outstanding Personality". The network's other notable programs include:

Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour, which began on radio in the 1930s under original host Major Bowes
The Morey Amsterdam Show, a comedy/variety show hosted by Morey Amsterdam, which started on CBS before moving to DuMont in 1949
Captain Video and His Video Rangers, a hugely popular kids' science fiction series
The Arthur Murray Party, a dance program
With This Ring, a panel show on marriage
Rocky King, Inside Detective, a private eye series starring Roscoe Karns
The Plainclothesman, a camera's-eye-view detective series
Live coverage of boxing and professional wrestling, the latter featuring matches staged by the Capitol Wrestling Corporation, the predecessor to World Wrestling Entertainment
Although DuMont's programming pre-dated videotape, many DuMont offerings were caught on kinescopes. These kinescopes were said to be stored in a warehouse until the 1970s. Actress Edie Adams, the wife of comedian Ernie Kovacs (both regular performers on early television) testified in 1996 before a panel of the Library of Congress on the preservation of television and video. Adams claimed that so little value was given to these films that the stored kinescopes were loaded into three trucks and dumped into Upper New York Bay. Nevertheless, a number of DuMont programs survive at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City, the UCLA Film and Television Archive in Los Angeles, in the Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, and the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.

DuMont programs were by necessity low-budget affairs, and the network received relatively few awards from the television industry. Most awards during the 1950s went to NBC and CBS, who were able to out-spend other companies and draw on their extensive history of radio broadcasting in the relatively new television medium. DuMont, however, won a number of awards during its years of operation.

During the 1952–1953 television season, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, host of Life is Worth Living, won an Emmy Award for Most Outstanding Personality. Sheen beat out CBS's Arthur Godfrey, Edward R. Murrow, and Lucille Ball who were also nominated for the same award. Sheen was also nominated for— but did not win— consecutive Public Service Emmys in 1952, 1953, and 1954.

DuMont received an Emmy nomination for Down You Go, a popular game show during the 1952–1953 television season (in the category Best Audience Participation, Quiz, or Panel Program). The network was nominated twice for its coverage of professional football during the 1953–1954 and 1954–1955 television seasons.

The Johns Hopkins Science Review, a DuMont public affairs program, was awarded a Peabody Award in 1952 in the Education category. Sheen's Emmy and the Science Review Peabody were the only national awards the DuMont Network received. Though DuMont series and performers would continue to win local television awards, by the mid-1950s the DuMont Network no longer had a national presence.

The earliest measurements of television audiences were performed by the C. E. Hooper company of New York. DuMont performed well in the Hooper ratings; DuMont's The Original Amateur Hour was the most popular series of the 1947-1948 television season. Variety ranked DuMont's Cavalcade of Stars as the tenth most popular television series during the 1949-1950 season.

In February of 1950, Hooper's competitor A.C. Nielsen bought out the Hooperatings system. Few DuMont series ever performed well in the Nielsen Ratings; no DuMont series ever appeared in Nielsen's annual lists of the top 20 most popular series. One of the DuMont Network's most popular series during the 1950s, Life is Worth Living, received Nielsen ratings of up to 11.1, attracting more than 10 million viewers. Sheen's devotional program was the most widely viewed religious series in the history of television. 169 local television stations aired Life, and for three years the program was able to successfully compete against NBC's popular The Milton Berle Show. (Berle, whose show was sponsored by Texaco, joked that he and the bishop "have the same boss: Sky Chief!") The ABC and CBS programs which aired in the same timeslot were cancelled. In 1952, Time magazine reported that popular game show Down You Go attracted an audience estimated at 16 million.

DuMont began with one basic disadvantage: unlike NBC and CBS, it did not have a radio network from which to draw revenue and big names. Also, most early television licenses were granted to established radio broadcasters, and many long-time relationships with radio networks carried over to the new medium. As CBS and NBC gained their footing, they began to offer programming that drew on their radio backgrounds, bringing over the most popular radio stars. Early television stations, when asked to choose between an affiliation with CBS offering Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, and Ed Sullivan, or DuMont with a then-unknown Jackie Gleason and Bishop Sheen, chose the well-travelled route. In smaller markets, with a limited number of stations, DuMont and ABC were often relegated to secondary status, so their programs got clearance only if the primary network was off the air or on a delayed basis via a kinescope recording (or "teletranscriptions" as they were referred to by DuMont).

DuMont aspired to grow beyond its three stations, applying for licenses in Boston (or Cincinnati, depending on the source) and Cleveland. This would have given the network five stations, the maximum allowed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at the time. However, DuMont was hampered by minority owner Paramount's two stations, KTLA in Los Angeles and WBKB-TV (now WBBM-TV) in Chicago. Although these stations never carried DuMont programming (with the exception of one year on KTLA in 1947–48), and in fact competed with the DuMont affiliates in those cities, the FCC ruled that Paramount's two licenses were in theory DuMont owned and operated stations, which effectively placed DuMont at the five-station cap.

Adding to DuMont's troubles was the FCC's 1948 "freeze" on television-license applications.[20] This was done to sort out the thousands of applications that had come streaming in, but also to rethink the allocation and technical standards laid down prior to World War II. It became clear soon after the war that 12 channels ("channel 1" had been removed from television broadcasting use) were not nearly enough for national television service. What was to be a six-month freeze lasted until 1952, when the FCC opened the UHF spectrum. The FCC, however, did not require television manufacturers to include UHF capability. In order to see UHF stations, most people had to buy an expensive converter. Even then, the picture quality was marginal at best. Tied to this was a decision to restrict VHF allocations in medium- and smaller-sized markets. Television sets were not required to have all-channel tuning until 1964.

Forced to rely on UHF to expand, DuMont saw one station after another go dark due to dismal ratings. DuMont bought a small, distressed UHF station in Kansas City in 1954, but ran it for just three months before shutting it down at a considerable loss, after attempting to compete with three established VHF stations.

The FCC's Dr. Hyman Goldin said in 1960, "If there had been four VHF outlets in the top markets, there's no question DuMont would have lived and would have eventually turned the corner in terms of profitability. I have no doubt in my mind of that at all."
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